Year End Blues

Each year, without exception, I become a wee bit out of sorts. The school year is over. The students are gone and I am without meaningful work. It truly is a difficult transition for me. Fatigue, the changes in routine, and the stress of saying farewell, all play a role. I imagine I am not the only teacher who feels this way.

Lack of structure is especially challenging. I take pleasure knowing that I have a job to go to each Monday morning. To be needed and held to high standards is a source of pride. To go from high stress to zero professional responsibilities is a cognitive challenge. Living overseas adds another level of difficulty. To combat the end of the year blues, I plan.

Below are several tips on how I cope:


I have already ferried off to Macau for an overnight with my wife. I have set up some family trips to New York City, Central Pennsylvania, Southern California and three weeks in Boston. I hope to reconnect with my American family in a big way. I will visit a few minor league baseball stadiums. I  have set up some chores to do around my mom’s house.

Teach Summer School

I really enjoy the weeks I spend teaching summer school. It is a joy to create my your own curriculum and to experiment with lessons. The dress code is casual, as is the learning.


I generally try to read about ten to fifteen books during the summer. I also spend this time lining up books for my expat book club. I try to visit local libraries wherever I am. I generally read two hours a day during the summer.

Take a course or two

This summer, I am studying Japanese online and taking some technology for educators courses at Harvard University. I will be meeting teachers from all over the world.


My road bike is ready to get a workout. I hope to refrain from renting a car while I am in the states. Biking, as a means of transportation is fun, saves me money and gets me in shape. I haven’t owned an automobile since moving to Asia. I take it as a challenge to map out my routes each day. I never clock my times or chart my miles on the road. I bring a small towel and clean up in public bathrooms.


I have previously worked in soup kitchens when I living in Washington DC. This summer, I hope to help get out the vote for the upcoming US presidential election.

Work on that hobby

This summer, I am continuing to practice my ukulele. I am forming a band when I get back to Hong Kong in August. Right now, I am mastering the intro to Pinball Wizard by the Who.

Accept that little is accomplished:

Each summer, I force myself to appreciate the time away. The understanding that there will be a job to return to is a great help for me. Accepting that there is little expected of me and that I need to rest and recuperate is essential. I remind myself each morning that this is my time to recharge. My goals for the day are drastically reduced.

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